The nineteenth century in America began with change. The country conducted elections that changed the political authority in the country. The federalists handed over power to the republicans and Thomas Jefferson was elected as the president. It demonstrated that governments could successfully hand over power without causing much blood shed. This change was reflected in other areas, as the country continued to develop through industrialization and the development of technology. Some of the events that took place during that period were the war in 1812, education for women, and the end of slavery in some states. Politically, people were becoming more vocal and they wanted their voice heard. The years were significant as they also marked when the free blacks were allowed to vote in New York. The country experienced major changes that were enabled by the development of industrialization, the Monroe doctrine and the two-party system.
Industrial revolution comprises many elements such as “economics, business and organizational history, social and labor history, the history of technology and industrial archeology” (Horn, Rosenband, and Smith 170). The first American Revolution began sometime in the eighteenth century. Many Americans, especially in the rural areas had taken up farming as the main economic activity in the eighteenth century. This changed when the country began its first industrial revolution. America had an advantage in that it had rich natural resources such as land and it could afford to develop it as it pleased. Inventions such as the cotton gin were instrumental in advancing industrialization in the country. These inventions were especially useful in the farms and they increased production. Other inventions that affected agriculture during this period were the cradle, cast iron and steel plow, thresher, fanning mill and a reaper. The inventions had a big impact on the people. They made work easier and they increased productivity. On the other hand, they made life difficult for those who depended on agriculture, since they could not afford to buy these machineries. The cotton gin enhanced the production of cotton and many farmers increased the amount of cotton they grew.
Transportation was important as it enabled the country to expand its economy. The country needed to develop its transport system since the available means of transport was expensive. The industrial revolution led to the development of the country’s transport system. It led to the specialization of work, which allowed people to focus on one item. It expanded the market as the country looked for areas where it would sell its products. “The most important frontiers of change involved faster transportation technologies, the rise of a small but innovative manufacturing sector, and the growth of hinterland markets” (Horn, Rosenband, and Smith 181). People were not concerned so much about how the inventions that were developed during this time were used and how they affected the environment. However, as the revolution progressed, people continued making better inventions. These inventions worked better, used cleaner energy, were less harmful to the environment and improved people’s lives considerably.
President James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which ensured that America exercised its sovereignty by prohibiting European countries to colonize the southern American countries. He maintained that America was the dominant power and it would not welcome interferences from other European countries. The president stated that on its part, America would not interfere in European affairs. The idea of restricting European countries had come from Great Britain and the country was keen to ensure that it succeeded. The European countries could not exercise their powers in the independent countries of that region. Britain backed America’s decision and it provided the military personnel needed to ensure that the law was withheld. This was important because America was not as developed as the other European countries. Before Britain made the decision to back America, the doctrine was not taken seriously by the countries involved because they knew that it did not have the power to ensure that the law was withheld. The Monroe doctrine established America as a country with clear foreign policies. It largely determined the country’s foreign relation policies with other countries.
The fact that America had declared its dominion over the Americas and had prohibited other countries from interfering meant that it had power over those countries. While this might not have been a problem initially, since America did not wield much power, it presented a problem to future generations in those countries. The doctrine was invoked by President Roosevelt and John F Kennedy. They did this to justify their reasons for interfering with South American affairs. Over time, America has interfered in the affairs of the Americas and this has sometimes caused tense relations with those countries. It has become one of the most powerful nations in the world economically and in terms of military power.
Critics of American interference in Latin American countries observe that the US is afraid of seeing them united. They claim, “One aspect of the U.S. foreign policy that has not changed is the country’s fear of strong, emerging regions” (Cuerrero and Zarate 7). America invoked the doctrine when it interfered with the conflicts that existed between France and Mexico. The Monroe doctrine had begun as a good initiative that would have improved the foreign relations of the United States with other countries. As time went on however, the doctrine was invoked several times and it was used for other reasons, other than what the president had intended. Although the doctrine is present in paper, America does not seem to practice its doctrines.
The 1800 elections marked the end of the rule of the Federalist Party. The party had been active in defending and implementing the constitution but internal wrangles ensured that it did not come back to power. The election of President Jefferson was the start of republican rule. He was elected for two terms. His successors, James Madison and James Monroe, were also elected on a republican vote and they each served the country for two terms. The Democratic -Republican Party had been formed as an opposition to the federalists. It was referred to as the Democratic – Republican Party. The Federalist Party believed in having a central government but this was not supported by everybody. The federalists and the democratic-republicans had different perspectives concerning national matters.
The democratic-republicans gained favor with most of the people because they were interested in improving their lives. They spoke for the farmers, laborers and merchants. This group made a big percentage of the country’s population. The era of the democratic-republicans rule was characterized by economic prosperity in the nation. The party did not support the idea of the federalists of establishing a single bank of the United States. They believed that the states should exercise autonomy and having a united bank would be a way for the federalists to take over the states’ autonomy. The two-party system showed the people that it was open to change and this was clear during the industrialization period. “By the election of 1824, internal squabbling had torn apart the Democratic – Republican Party” (Gizzi, Sovell, and Wilkerson 193)
The antebellum period of 1800-1840 marked a period when America was defining and establishing itself as a sovereign nation. The country faced many challenges internally as well as with other nations. However, this did not stop it from becoming an industrialized nation and people continued to come up with different innovations that made their lives better. The changes that the country made during that time have continued to affect the country in different ways. The Monroe doctrine is still mentioned and used today in different countries. The industrial revolution that happened during that period gave people the desire to continue finding ways to better their lives. The democratic-republican system was a way for people to exercise their freedom, as they felt free to have differing opinions about issues. The changes made during that time affected the country during that time and they continue being significant today.
Cuerrero, Amparo and Zarate Cecilia. “A Renaissance of Resistance: U.S. Military Expansion in South America Meets Opposition.” Peace and Freedom 70. 2 (2010). Print.
Gizzi, Michael, Sovell Tracey and Wilkerson William. The Web of Democracy: an Introduction to American Politics. New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print
Horn, Jeff, Rosenband Leonard and Smith Merritt. Reconceptualizing the Industrial Revolution. MIT Press, 2010. Print.